Dr. Andrea Hollingsworth
Hollingsworth Consulting

More than any other time in history, we have too much to pay attention to. I often feel helplessly tossed around by an unending barrage of distractions, most of them digital.

It’s all too easy to lose myself in it. Sometimes, in the avalanche of notifications, I can’t even remember the things that matter to me, let alone how to truly tend to them. 

Sound familiar? If yes, you’re not alone.

According to recent research by Zipdo:

  • 63% of employees feel distracted by their office environment
  • 31% of employees feel that checking social media is their biggest distraction at work
  • 83% of workers use instant messaging tools at work, with 70% reporting being frequently interrupted by them

Research suggests it takes about 23 minutes for workers to fully refocus after being interrupted. That’s a ton of wasted attention while at work! Employers are paying for it when it comes to productivity.  

So how is freedom of mind possible?

Finding Calm

In his book How to Calm Your Mind, Chris Bailey points out that, one hundred years ago, no individual could handle the overwhelming amount of information that the average modern-day person endures, moment to moment. We urgently need to fight for calm. Why?

  1. We face more stress than ever before, and have fewer outlets to shed the stress.
  2. Evolutionarily, we’re built for things in the analog world—like interpersonal interaction, use of physical tools, and moving through nature. But most of our stress comes from the digital world, which means we live our lives sitting still while our minds race.
  3. Even though our stress is inward (mental), it has a direct, negative effect on our bodies and overall health.

What is the key to cultivating a mind freer from distraction? In Bailey’s (and many others’) opinion, the key is meditation. 

Taking a Moment to Pause

Meditation means pausing, with awareness, to nonjudgmentally notice your present-moment experience. It builds up neural resistance, hones focus, balances emotions, and protects us from rumination (a leading cause of unhappiness). 

Meditation is both simple and difficult. But if you’re like me and desire calm in daily life, then making the effort is worth it. Taking a moment to pause each day for five to ten minutes can be life-altering. 

How do you do it? Meditation can be as simple as just focusing on the breath; noticing what thoughts arise and offering acceptance toward them; then repeatedly bringing your mind back to focus. 

This practice clears space for you to notice important things about yourself, like:

  • Where is my body holding pain, tension, strain? 
  • What is causing worry, grief, numbness, or anger at this moment? 
  • Who is on my mind? 
  • What is on my mind? 
  • What are the things I’m telling myself? 
  • What am I choosing that does, and doesn’t, align with the person and leader I want to be in the world?

The beeps, buzzes, dings, and red dots that vie for your attention don’t have your best interests or goals in mind. They’re not on your side and they don’t rule you. 

The way we pay attention is the way we live our lives. Fighting for control of your attention means fighting for control over what matters most.

When you build up your ability to pay attention to what you pay attention to, you’ll be granted real power—power to do what you want to do, be who you want to be, and want what you want to want.

— McCall Dubbelman, Intern, Hollingsworth Consulting 

About Andrea

Dr. Andrea Hollingsworth is Founder and CEO of Hollingsworth Consulting, author of the bestselling book The Compassion Advantage (2024), and one of today’s leading global experts on compassionate leadership. Since 2008, she has been studying, speaking, and writing about the science and spirituality of human emotions and relationships. Her articles have been published more than a dozen times in peer-reviewed journals, and she has taught at prestigious institutions like Princeton, Boston University, and Loyola University Chicago. In addition, Dr. Andrea has delivered talks to audiences at some of the top-ranked universities in the world—including Cambridge University in England and Heidelberg University in Germany.

Dr. Andrea spends most of her time inspiring leaders and teams to use The Compassion Advantage to build supercharged organizations through cultures of care— especially in times of challenge and change. Andrea lives with her family in Minnesota where she cheers hard at her son’s soccer games and relishes every opportunity to visit the north shore of Lake Superior.